Ladies and gentlemen, I consider it a great honour mounting this podium to speak on touchy issues of politics and entrepreneurship. In 2009, I was invited by the leadership of this great Association to speak on similar issue. I was happy that the young and energetic entrepreneur that availed me this opportunity, Mr. Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye, former president of this great association was a product of that great lecture at Olojudo Palace Hall, Ido-Ekiti. I only hope that today’s paper would widen our thinking horizons to the betterment of ourselves, Ekiti State, and Nigeria.
It is no longer news that Ekiti State is blessed. We are abundantly blessed beyond measures. The fertile land abounds everywhere in Ekiti. The climatic condition smiles on us in such a way that planting is almost possible round the year. In the 5 km radius from this podium, we can count up to one hundred professors from different professions who conspicuously dotted every home in our Local Government Area of Ido-Osi. Our geographical location does not make us prone to any form of natural disaster. Both rainfall and sunshine always greet us at good measures.
However, let us look around the whole of Ekiti, from Ikere to Otun; Omuo to Efon-Alaaye, where are the effects of our education on our living patterns? It is worrisome that Ekiti is ranked among the poorest States in Nigeria. We are only competing with Ebonyi and Yobe States! This is not unconnected with our inability to utilize our talents profitably or our inability to conquer inertia in the business world. Our lack of creativity has cost us dearly in the sharing of national cakes as we are often left with crumbs after the viable states have taken their shares. The organisers of today’s event aptly identified this void and asked me to speak on Youths Involvement in Politics: the Pros and Cons on our Economy viz a viz Entrepreneurship.
It is not uncommon that in our bid to dash out of our entrepreneurship shell, our first point of call is usually politics. Since 1999, while other States can easily count the number of Governors that ruled their States; I will not want to embarrass you with the number of men that have ruled us. In fact, the numbers of days spent by handful of them were not greater than gestation period of a woman! Why are we spending so much energy on politics?
I chose not to bore this gathering with figures of what has accrued to Ekiti from the Federal Government of Nigeria. However, I cannot but let you know that from May 2015 to June 2016, Ekiti got about 50 billion Naira for herself and her fledging sixteen Local Government Councils. That was not the best of time for Nigeria economy; thus, it will not be an exaggeration to say that we have gotten at least 400 billion Naira from the Federal Government in the last 10 years. Why has Ekiti government not able to invest the money wisely?
Who is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur can be described as a person who uses his/her initiatives creatively in making a better living for himself/herself and others. However, having good initiatives or ideas, no matter how lofty does not qualify one to be an entrepreneur. It is the ability and willingness to creatively harness those ideas and initiatives to bring meaningful fortunes that qualifies one to be an entrepreneur.
Robert Kiyosaki in his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, wrote that one of the reasons the poor are poor is because they are not trained to recognise entrepreneurship opportunities. He further wrote that the poor spend so much time in school and what they have learnt in school is to work for wages instead of money working for them! The number of applicants for civil service job in Ekiti at the eve of July election confirms the truism in Kiyosaki’s assertions. The imbalances in our educational strive and entrepreneurship intention is making us to be at the backseat among the comity of States in Nigeria.
The worse hit to our social system is not our lack of entrepreneurship incursions but rather the fencing out of those who seem to be better informed from our political landscape. The major qualification to be political worthy is no longer the wealth of your idea or the academic qualification you possess, rather, it is your numbness in thuggery either virtually as e-rat or physically as ballot snatcher! The qualities of debates in our State House of Assembly or worse still at Ido/Osi Legislative Chambers are examples. This trend cuts across all political parties who have graced our State.
Our chances as youth are many. One of it is for us to position ourselves for better future by having good education. Such education must be married with entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to make a better living. Since in our political arena, the rich are stronger than the poor with muscles to hull off boxes during elections, wealth is thus a necessary prerequisite for political participation in our land. The ‘not too young to run’ is a sequacious hogwash to put wool over our short-sighted eyes. Sadly, the gullible youth whose futures are mortgaged by the super-rich political class are the ones running such commentary on the social media.
Another option is closely related to the one above. Grow your career first. Carve a niche for yourself in your profession. Once that happens; in as much as that profession earns you money and integrity, it is just a matter of time before you become a beautiful bride for political parties. All you will do in this regard is to feed some political middlemen who have the native knowledge of how to spread your wealth to various political tributaries. By doing this, with time, you will become a force to reckon with. If the money is not coming in millions of Naira, your ice breaking adventure may extinct in no distance time. Thus, this option is not meant for those who are poised to becoming civil servants!
A more perilious option is to return to your village and grow actively in business and politics. I look around and I cannot see any meaningful business adventures except hotels where you compete in your bed space with wall geckos and spiders! Close to it are gas stations which only have gas during the artificially created fuel scarcity! Then, no other venture anywhere. You will be making a lot of changes by marrying your mechanized farming or livestock farming with your Ward Chairman or major political player in your Ward. In this light, there will be wealth, and there will be better and quality representation for our people. This option looks lofty but it has plenty of risks, too. I only hope all rules of business will be followed lest the business yanked off if the opposing party wins an election!
May I inform you that the future of Ekiti is in our hands. No change can be effected without a willing governor. Whoever is leading Ekiti must lead by examples by using our allocations to turn around the State from a civil service State to a more economic viable State. The onus lies on such political leader to invest in Ekiti, too. Our farm products are wasting away in the farms; our tourist attractions are withering away; our fertile lands are not profitably used; and the energies of our youths are channelled into nothingness! When will this land of rolling hills tap the minerals that are deeply locked in the hills? When will this fountain of knowledge bring forth cascades to the world to drink? Our Aladdin’s cave is loaded with all the goodies to take us to the towering height in the world but our ostentatious political players who are wallowing in the mire of blurred vision and ineptitude are holding the magical lamp to the cave. Are the youth willing and ready to get the lamp off their hands?